A Detailed Description

When designing Clash of Armor, David Reynolds had a number of goals in mind. He wanted a game that captured the feel of mobile combat in the Second World War, yet which did not focus on tank warfare to the detriment of the roles of infantry and artillery.

A second goal was to put command control at the heart of the game. David reasoned that major battles such as the Battle of France 1940 could not be recreated without a system to enable a well-led force (the Germans) to triumph over a larger and technically superior foe (the French).

Lastly, David Reynolds wanted a game system which would be easy to learn and play, yet historically accurate. "Game mechanics should be simple," he explains, "without being simplistic."

Maneuver Elements and Command Control

In Clash of Armor, each stand represents a platoon (for armor and infantry) or a battery (for artillery). Stands are grouped into company-sized forces, known in the game as maneuver elements or ME's. Maneuver elements are combined to form battalion-sized units known as formations.

Each maneuver element is assigned three scores: Activation Level, representing the quality of its leadership and training; Morale Grade, representing the spirit and determination of the group; and Experience Level, indicating combat proficiency.

(For simplification, Morale and Experience can be assigned on a formation basis rather than by individual ME's. The examples in the rulebook have been done this way.)

Each formation is led by a command stand. Leaders are individually assigned Command Span (the ability to give orders) and Leadership Bonus (a leadership effectiveness rating). For example, a leader with a high Span but low Bonus would be able to give orders to many units, but those orders might not be successfully carried out.

Units and Actions. This game is played in cycles, each of which is composed of two rounds (one for each side). During each round, that player's maneuver elements attempt to perform Actions. An ME is capable of completing a maximum of 3 Actions in a round.

The possible Actions are:

Before any ME can take an action, the commanding player has a decision to make. He can either risk letting that group act under its own initiative this round, or he can use a leader to motivate the group -- he cannot do both.

When acting under its own initiation, the ME must succeed at an Activation Roll in order to take each Action. Once it fails one of these rolls, it can take no further Actions this round.

Alternately, a leader can order ME's into Action. The leader spends 1 Span point for each order he gives, and his Bonus rating is used as a modifier to the Activation dieroll. If a roll fails, the leader has the option of spending another Command point and trying again.

Once an ME succeeds at an Activation Roll, its Action must be completed before any new Activation Rolls can be tried. The player may continue with the round until he can no longer activate new units. The opposing player then begins his round.

Response Actions. In Clash of Armor, the opposing player is not inactive during his enemy's turn. Two events allow the enemy player to attempt Actions when it is not his round -- moving in sight of an enemy ME, and firing at an enemy ME. The enemy force may react by attempting one of these actions:

In order to react, the enemy ME must succeed at an Activation Roll. An ME being shot at automatically gets to take an Action; however, if it wishes to Return Fire and if the Activation Roll is successful, it gets to fire simultaneously rather than after the original attack.

In the case of enemy fire, other ME's besides the target may attempt to react. However, the Activation Roll is more difficult for maneuver elements which are farther away, or not part of the target's formation.

The Fine Points of Activation. A number of modifiers apply to each Activation Roll. For instance, each successful Activation makes the next Activation Roll just a little bit harder (and Actions taken during the enemy's round count against that ME during its own round).

It is possible to move multiple ME's at the same time, using a Coordinated Action. All units must take the same Action, and have the same general goal. Coordinated Actions allow a leader to move his ME's more economically (the order still costs only 1 Span, same as a normal order). The Activation Roll is made against the Activation level of the worst ME in the coordinating group.

Normally, all stands in an ME must perform the same Action. However, during a Move Action, selected stands may instead be designated as "support fire" -- if the Move triggers enemy opportunity fire, the support fire stands can pre-emptively fire on the firing enemy stands. Also, during any Action, a minority of the stands in the ME may instead perform a "minor move" (1/3 of normal movement).

Whenever an ME attempts an Action, it risks gaining 1 or 2 Fatigue points (regardless of success or failure of the roll). In addition, an ME automatically receives 1 fatigue point for attempting any Action it has already performed that round. Each point of fatigue beyond the first is a negative modifier to future Activation Rolls. In other words, as units become tired, they lose their ability to carry out orders.

EXAMPLE: Let's say we have an American infantry battalion, composed of 3 infantry companies plus a mortar ME. The 3rd infantry company has already been in action, and has 3 fatigue points.

The battalion leader has a Span of 4, and a Bonus of 3. He uses his first Span point to order the 1st Infantry Company to take a Move Action. The required Activation Roll is -- Activation Level (4) + Leader Bonus (3) = 7. Rolling a 10-sided die, the player gets a 5 -- success. The company advances.

Unfortunately, this advance gives an opportunity for the enemy to activate. A German company attempts an Opportunity Fire Reaction. Its Activation Roll is -- Activation Level (3) + Reaction Bonus (2) = 5. On a dieroll of 4, the enemy is successful and can make his attack.

The American leader now spends another Span point, ordering the 1st Company to take a Fire Action against that German company. This time, the required number is -- Activation Level (4) + Leader Bonus (3) + Previous Action Penalty (-3) = 4. On a roll of 9, the attempt fails.

Undaunted, the leader spends another Span point and tries again. The Activation number remains the same as before. On a dieroll of 1, the activation succeeds. However, a "1" also means that the ME receives 1 point of Fatigue.

Being fired upon gives the German company another chance to activate. It tries to Return Fire. Success is automatic; however, if the ME can succeed at the Activation Roll, it can fire simultaneously rather than after the American attack. Activation Level (3) + Reaction Bonus (2) + Previous Action Penalty (-3) = 2. On a roll of 4, the enemy fails and must make his attack after the American attack.

Next, the leader spends his last Span point to issue a Coordinated Action, asking the 2nd and 3rd Companies to Move up in support. The Activation Level of the 3rd Company is used, since it is the lowest -- Activation Level (4) + Fatigue Penalty (-2) = 2. On a dieroll of 10, the activation fails, and both ME's gain a fatigue point.

With all Span points spent, the mortar unit can only activate using its own initiative. It attempts an artillery action. No modifiers apply, so its Activation Level is its base number -- 3. On a roll of 5, the attempt fails, and the ME may not attempt further activation rolls this round.


The basic combat system works like this: Each stand has several Fire Values, depending on distance to the target. The attacker rolls a die, then correlates dieroll and Fire Value on the Fire Results Table to determine the Fire Effect Number. The target has a Casualty Value, determined by terrain and situation. The Fire Effect Number is divided by the Casualty Value to determine how many Cohesion Hits the target receives.

EXAMPLE: A French infantry stand takes opportunity fire against an advancing Germany infantry stand. At a tabletop range of 5", the French unit has a Fire Value of 5. On a dieroll of 2, it achieves a Fire Effect Number of 8 on the Fire Results Table.

The German stand was moving through light woods (Casualty Value 5), but there is a -1 penalty for being a moving target, so the final Casualty Value is 4. The Fire Effect Number (8) divided by the Casualty Number (4) is 2 -- 2 cohesion hits.

Tank Combat. When a Cohesion Hit is scored against an armored vehicle, there is a chance that it will not penetrate the target's armor.

Penetration Value depends on the gun type and (for non-HEAT rounds) range. Each armored vehicle has both a Front and a Side Armor Value. (If the target is hit on the front quarter, a die is rolled for each hit, to determine whether to use Front or Side armor values.)

If Penetration Value equals or exceeds the target's maximum possible Armor Value, the Cohesion Hit scores.

Otherwise, the attacker rolls the dice. On a roll of "10," the hit scores anyway. In addition, if the dieroll equals any of the Armor Exceptions for that target vehicle, and if the vehicle's new Armor Value is equal or less than the Penetration Value, then a hit is scored.

EXAMPLE: A Russian T-34/85 opens fire on a German PzV. At a range of 7", this tank's gun and rate of fire provide a Fire Value of 9. On a dieroll of 4, this turns into a Fire Effect Number of 7.

Since the Panzer V was hull down, its Casualty Value is 6. The Fire Effect Number (7) divided by the Casualty Value (6) results in 1 Cohesion hit.

At a range of 7", the Penetration Value is 13. However, the Panzer V was hit on the front quarter, which reduces Penetration to 9. The front quarter hit also requires a dieroll to determine which Armor Value to use -- on a roll of 3, the Front Armor Value of 14 is used.

Since Armor Value exceeds Penetration Value, the attacker must roll a die. If he rolls a 10, the hit is automatic; if he rolls a 7, he triggers the armor exception for the Panzer. In this case, he rolls a lucky 7, the Panzer's armor is reduced to the armor exception value (9!), and since the Penetration equals the Armor Value, the Cohesion hit scores!

Artillery Combat. For purposes of the game, artillery breaks down into two categories -- artillery attached to non-artillery units, and stand-alone artillery units.

Stand-alone artillery units are assigned forward observer (FO) stands. These stands cannot be killed, but hits scored against them reduce their effectiveness. If the FO can see an area, then the artillery can attack it.

Attached artillery (i.e. a battalion's mortars) do not have forward observers. Instead, any stand in their formation can spot for them as long as that stand remains stationary.

The Actions used when attacking with artillery are:

Plot BarrageAllows an artillery ME (a battery) to place a plot template on the tabletop. If several ME's coordinate their Action, their templates must be placed in neighboring areas.
Fire BarrageAllows artillery to make an attack. Requires a Plot template to already be in play, unless the artillery is firing on a target they can see directly. The Plot is now replaced with a Barrage template, which can be adjusted within several inches of the original Plot.
Op FireAllows artillery to attack during the enemy's round, if hostile stands enter a Plot template's area. If the Action is successful, the Plot becomes a Barrage template, and may be adjusted by several inches.
When the Barrage template comes into play, all stands beneath it come under attack. In addition, any unit which enters the template's area receives a free artillery attack. Since these attacks apply to both friendly and enemy stands, it is good to know that there is also a Lift Barrage Action, used to call off friendly fire before advancing the troops.

Once the Barrage is in play, additional Fire Barrage Actions are automatically successful (though a roll is made to see if the unit receives fatigue points). An Activation Roll must be made, however, if the unit wishes to adjust the barrage location, or if attempting multiple Fires in the same round.

Barrage templates may be removed at the start of the player's round. If the player's round ends without a Fire Action involving that Barrage template, the template is automatically removed or replaced with a Plot template.

Additional rules provide for planned fire (i.e. scripted bombardments), designated targets (i.e. pre-plotted targets), and counter-battery fire.

Suppression Fire. An option when making anti-personnel attacks is to use Suppression Fire. If the attack is successful, the target is suppressed; if the attack is very successful, Cohesion Hits may also be scored. A suppressed unit suffers a penalty when attempting to activate, and cannot perform opportunity fire.

Close Combat. When attempting a Move Action, a unit may declare its intention to initiate Close Combat against enemy units which it could potentially reach in the coming Action. If the unit activates, all opportunity fire triggered by its movement is resolved, and then the attacking player decides whether to go through with the Close Combat -- if he does, then his stands are moved to touch the defending stands.

If the combat involves infantry versus infantry and/or artillery, then an Infantry Close Assault is resolved. One attack is made against each defending stand. The attackers and defender are assigned a special combat value, based on their type and current hits. A die is rolled, and the result compared against the column on the Close Assault Chart matching the combat value odds ratio. Close Combat is short and decisive -- one side is either routed, or all stands on that side take 1-2 Cohesion Hits.

When vehicles attempt Close Combat against artillery and/or infantry, an Overrun is resolved. Each attacker is assigned a combat value, based on the amount of movement spent on the overrun and the attacking stand's armament type. A normal attack is then made, with the bonus that the defender may be suppressed as well as take Cohesion Hits.

When vehicles attack other vehicles in Close Combat, a wild melee ensues. Combat rounds are resolved at "zero" range until only one side remains. Firing units select which angle they attack their targets from, and all fire is simultaneous.

Damage, Fatigue, and Morale

Combat produces Cohesion Hits. When a stand takes 3 such Hits, it is removed from play.

A wrinkle in the combat rules makes it difficult to "gang up" on individual stands. When an ME attacks, no two stands can attack the same target stand unless no other target is available.

The Recovery Action allows an ME to get rid of Hits and Fatigue. Hits can only be done away with if the unit is not engaged with the enemy. Up to 3 points of Fatigue can be removed in a single Action. Dismissing Hits is a separate roll versus Morale, and while a good roll will get rid of 1 Hit, a bad roll will make 1 of the unit's Hits permanent for the current game.

Whenever a stand is removed from play, the parent ME must undertake a Morale Check. (Checks must also be made when a leader is eliminated, when a Fall Back or Withdraw Action is taken, or when a stand routs or retreats due to Close Combat.)

The mechanics of the Morale Check are simple -- roll one die versus Morale Level, modified by the ME's current damage (if any). A bad roll means the unit breaks; if the roll is very bad, the unit routs.

A broken unit must immediately retreat, and then can no longer do anything (except make additional retreats) until Rallied. The additional retreats are voluntary, but fatigue the unit and risk the chance of routing. A routed unit is immediately removed from play.

To restore broken units, leaders must Rally them. When a leader conducts a Rally, he forfeits his ability to give normal orders for that round. He may attempt to Rally more than one unit, but all of the ME's must be in the same area. If a Morale Roll is successful, the unit is no longer broken; the leader's Bonus applies as a modifier to the roll.

Formations suffer Morale effects, based upon the number of units broken or out of play and the average Morale of the units in the formation. A shaken formation is restricted when advancing; a routed formation must retreat off the tabletop.

The Rest of the Rules

Clash of Armor also provides rules for:

Visibility A stand becomes "spotted" if it is within sighting distance of an enemy unit, and if a line of sight (LOS) can be traced to it. The rules make no reference to the traditional LOS method (i.e. a string), but instead provide a formula to determine whether blocking terrain interferes with the line of sight. Sighting distance is determined by the type of target stand, the terrain it occupies, and whether the target is stationary or moving. Units which fire are automatically spotted if in an enemy LOS. Once spotted, a stand remains spotted as long as it is in an enemy LOS.
Smoke Smoke can be created by indirect fire ("area smoke") or by vehicles ("pin point smoke"). If a LOS is traced through smoke, the defender receives a bonus to his Casualty Value; smoke also makes it harder to sight enemy units. The rules specifically cover smoke dischargers, smoke mortars, and smoke pots. Vehicles have a limited capacity to fire smoke.
Pre-Game Preparation These rules allow players to become involved in tasks normally performed in advance of the actual battle, such as preliminary reconnaissance, preliminary bombardment, and construction of fortifications.
Buildings and Fortifications Covered by these rules are pill boxes, dragon teeth, anti-tank ditches, ordinary and "fortified" buildings, and minefields. Engineer units may perform Engineering Actions; they also provide a bonus during Close Combat.
Air Power Listed as optional, this rule allows "airstrikes" (a stand representing 2-5 actual planes) to conduct ground attacks. Planes may either be based close by ("close support") or at distant airbases ("single mission"); close support airstrikes can return to the game to make additional attacks, limited only by their scramble rating (number of turns between missions). Once the airstrike is on the tabletop, it may remain for 3-6 rounds; to attack, it must activate Actions in the normal manner. A forward observer (FO) stand directs the ground attacks. Besides standard ground attack, planes may also be assigned to interdiction, which allows the airstrike to attempt attacks against enemy retreats or withdrawals.
Other Optional Rules These "experimental" rules add such wrinkles as blind fire (bombarding a location where "hidden" enemy stands are suspected), sound detection, the Scout Action, effects of crowding, and so forth.

The Data

The rulebook provides data for 164 vehicles belonging to the Italian, French, Soviet, British, German and American forces during WWII. The entry for each vehicle includes years of availability, gun type, machinegun armament (if any), armor ratings, and movement rates.

The infantry are broken down into 3-6 classes per nationality, with individual Fire Values. For instance, British infantry types are standard infantry, parachute infantry, and machinegun infantry.

Four pages of organization charts are provided, showing how to build battalions, regiments and divisions in game terms. Most of the information given pertains to American, Soviet and German forces in the 1943-44 period.

No scenarios are included with the basic game.

Last Updates
14 April 1996reorganized
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